Saturday, June 25, 2011

I'm sure everyone that reads this blog has some awareness of Dave Walker via bands like Harvest and Krakatoa.  This interview was conducted over a period of about 4 months via Facebook chat and email, and Dave was kind enough to provide us with some Harvest photos that he's pretty sure have never made their way onto the internet before.

SITP: How did you first get into punk/hardcore?

Dave: When I was very young, like 8 or 9, my half-brother had given me some tapes of west coast, bay area punk and as well introduced me to such metal bands as WASP, Metallica and of course Slayer. I was hooked from the first chord. The first band that really left a mark on me though was this UK band Antisect. I don’t remember when I got this record exactly, but it was so powerful and the lyrics were so dark, but at the same time, it was just so amazingly different than anything I had ever heard. Another influential record was, This Is Boston, Not LA.  Gang Green really took me off guard and in high school I did a very weak Gang Green cover band. So yeah, I’ll be 38 this year and so I guess I’ve been listening to punk for about 30 years. Craziness.

SITP: When did you go to your first show?

Dave: This I remember as being Metallica during the Ride The Lightning tour. It was the same time as Ozzy’s Bark at the Moon release and I think he played too, but I just remember Metallica playing and I just went nuts. I didn’t know Ozzy too well at that age. Other than my brother getting me music and our very local record shop, I was still only 12 years old and I lived in the country with only a small town nearby. My half- brother lived in San Francisco and visited very infrequently. The hardcore show I remember first was actually when Soul Asylum was kind of a little more punk and they played a local college.  Mind you, this was ’85, not ’95, so they were much different.  The next punk show was a local band called Blind Approach. The guitarist, Matt Henderson, went on to play with Agnostic Front.  Pretty awesome. Following that, was Sick Of It All and the list goes on, just like anybody who spent their early teens in the mid-late 80’s. We were so privileged and got see all the big names that are now so revered (as they should be). Best band that I hadn’t heard of and that pretty much destroyed me was Inside Out. From then on, I had to sing in a band.

SITP: How did your first band come about?

Dave: First band was Pillar with a bunch of friends from the town where I went to high school.  This was Justin Kane’s first band too, I think.  I mean he is a few years younger than me and I was 17.  I had no idea how to do anything.  I became the vocalist by default because I had taken some voice lessons at some point.   Screaming was foreign to me.  I was listening to 411, Underdog, Supertouch and thought I liked that style.  Yell, sing, scream but not the way I ended up screaming in Harvest. We were just so inspired to make a scene and not only started a band, but created a venue, started setting up these rogue shows in parks, reached out to bands from Southern MN, and eventually started having some fairly big bands come, although they weren’t that big at the time.  We had Snapcase play and that was really big for us as this was back when Victory was awesome. This was before Lookingglassself and Daryl had only been with them for a little while. It was amazingly fun and super rewarding to see all these people that we didn’t know, who lived in the same area we did, show up to our shows and just let go. It was our outlet and we felt it was a big thing missing in our little ‘scene’. Whoever showed up, it was their show and we fed off their excitement and adrenaline. All the feelings and things I learned from the group, no matter how people react to hearing that stuff now, set the stage for the rest of my career as a vocalist and I look back at that time as the purest, most fun I’ve ever had. Punk and hardcore to me has always been more than music.  It’s about the experience of feeling acceptance and in the rural, conformist place where we all grew up, this was our liberation, our few choice hours where we got to let go of all the stereotypes and bullshit that no matter your background, we all fucked shit up together.

SITP: I'm pretty sure we actually made a post of that demo tape a while back on the blog.

Dave: Yes, you did... we recorded with Chad who at that time was playing for this band Downside, or rather it was just starting to fizzle out, but he had a small recording studio in his basement. Chad later played guitar for Threadbare. We loved the experience and just making music that at the time we really loved and needed to do. Pillar, we felt, brought a lot of unlikely people together in our small town of Faribault where I went to high school.  I was out of high school at the time the band started and was going to a tech school for radio broadcasting.  It was super fun.  We played in Minneapolis a few times and got the chance to play with Heroin.

SITP: Did Rain come after Pillar?

Dave:  Yes.  After Pillar, came Rain. How did you even hear about that?  Well, I guess Rain played the New Hope Fest with a bunch of huge bands and we had some shows with some other large bands but still, I never thought either Pillar or Rain made anyone's radar.

SITP: The subject came up on our message board, and it was said that tracking down the 'Blind Led To Drown' EP is "harder to find than the fucking lost ark" haha.

Dave: That's amazing.  hahaha.

SITP: Suffice to say, we'd all love to hear a rip of it sometime.

Dave: Yeah, I have it somewhere in mp3 format.  I enjoyed that band a lot.  Really gave me an opportunity to expand my voice.  It's so raw.  When I hear it, it hurts me to think I screamed like that.  It took me a long time to figure out how to do it properly. I'll send it over when i find it.

SITP: How long did Rain last?

Dave: That's a good question.  I only say that because I was so immersed at that point in doing music that I was involved in Rain and then doing Krakatoa and while I was doing Krakatoa, Rain stopped playing and then somewhere along the line I met Eric Olson, and the next thing I knew, I was in Harvest.

SITP: So you were being pulled in various directions?
Dave: Yes, and Krakatoa was such a different animal than Rain.

SITP: Krakatoa has always been a very interesting band to me. There was an actual demo, right?  I've been trying to track it down for years.

Dave: Yeah, that's all we had.  Those tracks are also tape only.  I don't have that demo on mp3 and that demo is sitting in a storage space in MN unfortunately.  I can't move with all the music I own.  I just don't have a space large enough.  If i ever find it on mp3 i will gladly send it to you to post.

SITP: How did it feel to have interest in the band pick up after it had already been put to rest?

Dave: Weird.

SITP: How long after the band's demise did Second Nature approach you guys about a 7"?

Dave:  we played a few shows and some were really awesome, but I think most people didn't know what to make of us.  It was a hybrid of so many things.  I sang on that.  Most of my early stuff, I was singing, or trying to.  It must have been around '95 or so that Dan approached us.

SITP: I think that's actually what I appreciated about Krakatoa the most; that you guys were adding more melodic elements, but that it maintained the urgency of hardcore.  I loved the 7".  The singing aspect seemed to transfer over into the earlier Harvest songs as well.  How come you dropped that aspect on the later Harvest material?

Dave:  I loved everything about it... I listen to it and feel super good having had the experience to just put into a project without worrying about any expectations. Dan was fantastic about supporting a band that he knew would probably never play another show.
Yes, I'm a fan of the dynamic shifts.  I have a weak spot for the heavy stuff too.  I listen back and wish I might have done a few things differently but all in all, I'm proud of it.  There are actually quite a few early Harvest songs that sound more like Hoover and drive Like Jehu mixed with Iconoclast than the Bloodlet type of comparisons we ended up getting.  It's funny how we evolved.  Suffice it say, none of those songs were ever recorded.

SITP: Obviously, Harvest was your first band that received a lot of attention while still together, and was your first band to do an extensive amount of touring.  How was it shifting into that more active direction?

Dave:  It was amazing.  I was also fortunate to make some friends along the way before it got too crazy. Carl Severson went to his first year of college at the U of MN and we became instant friends. He moved back to the east coast after deciding to continue at Rutgers.  He knew I was doing something, and he was starting a label and he asked me to send him our songs when it was ready.  I did, he loved them and then released it.  It was awesome to have him out on the east coast and putting out Converge and Harvest around the same time.  It all happened so fast.  Instantly, with a 7", you felt like you were finally credible.  At that time, a demo tape was sometimes all you could do.  A 7" was serious business.  So from there, it just moved progressively into all we thought about.

SITP: For a debut 7", the quality of that recording seemed really on point.

Dave:  I was going to write some lengthy answer and realized yes, we really lucked out.  I, however, have a soft spot for the Incision 7".

SITP:  That was the first release for you guys on Trustkill, correct?

Dave:  Yes.  It's funny how Carl moved us over to Josh.  I think back sometimes and wonder why, but I guess at the time, Josh was a little more connected and could handle a little more as a label.  In any case, that 7" for me was a way of shedding some much needed religious angst.

SITP: did you grow up in a pretty religious family?

Dave:  I was raised Lutheran. Not the strictest of religions, mind you, but I endured the church until I was 17 and then decided it wasn't for me.  I struggled, as most people do who were raised hearing one thing, but thanks to my parents for supporting free thinking and punk music for making me feel that I wasn't alone.  I  was able to shed my previous self through the music.

SITP: Did getting into bands like the Dead Kennedys with songs like "Religious Vomit" make you question things you were being taught in church?

Dave: Definitely. DK and Slayer didn't exactly sink in at age 10, but when I was 13 and figuring out what stuff meant, I was certainly wondering why I was going to church and had to memorize verses from a book I didn't relate to.  I also thought the devil had a better back story.

SITP: Do you have any especially fond memories or funny stories of being on the road with Harvest?

Dave:  Well, I do have one in particular that I like... Harvest and Endeavor were on our way from Rapid City, SD to Seattle.  As you know, it's an epic drive of 30 hours or so... we got bored and had fire extinguisher fights along the way, as well as throwing random food products at each other at high speeds with all our van doors wide open.  Such good times.  The problem was, we didn't think we would need the fire extinguisher.  So we are about 10 miles outside of Seattle, maybe 30 actually, and all of a sudden, smoke is rising from below our bench seat in the back of the van where we were sitting.  Sure enough, a tote filled with shirts caught on fire.  We pull over, pull everything out and see a giant hole where the floor board used to be and our shirts are literally smoldering.  We had to put whatever we could down on the floor to stop the burning... but the best part was some of the bands were trying on the burnt shirts that were still being eaten by the fire as they were wearing them and the shirt was disappearing as they had it on.  Amazing sight.  We cleared everything out from under the bench seat and proceeded to cook veggie burgers on aluminum foil under the seat.  Apparently, the lining around the exhaust pipe had fallen off so nothing was protecting the cab from the heat. Just ridiculous, but it could have been much worse.

SITP: Did anyone in Harvest agree with the consensus of AOL Hardcore Chat at the time that Papa Roach definitely stole the opening riff to Epicure?

Dave: This was often referenced, but honestly, I have no idea. The similarities are certainly there. The opening riff was written by Eric Olson, who when asked, said pretty much the same thing.

SITP:  What made you guys decide to bring Harvest to an end?

Dave:  It was both my decision and a mutual decision, but I initiated it.  During Harvest, I was working towards a career in graphic design and had a contract position offered to me in NYC.  The change of scenery really excited me, but it was more than that.  There were other personal reasons as well.  In any case, we all sat down, talked, and the next thing you know, we had our last show and then Hope Con was forming.

SITP:  I remember getting a vhs copy of the final Harvest show sometime in 2000 or so, and it looked pretty nuts.

Dave:  They stopped counting at 2500 people, so yeah, it was ridiculous.  The bands we had there were amazing. It was an experience unlike any other.

SITP: After the dissolution of Harvest, what was your mind frame as far as starting a new band?

Dave:  That's a good question.  I had like post traumatic shock after that whirlwind of 6+ years.  I took a look at what it was like to just be a kid going to shows, staring a real full time job in the face, one that didn't suck and the possibility of holding down a real relationship with this woman I was involved with at the time. These all seemed really positive and I was going to make them work, but it was odd.

SITP: Were you missing that rush of playing shows?

Dave:  It was about 2 months after I had moved to New York when I got a call from Matt Fox of Shai Hulud asking me to go to Europe for 6 weeks.  It was flattering, because I really liked their music, but I needed to take a personal hiatus and I turned it down.  There was the possibility of doing that band full time after that, but that wasn't the point.  If I wanted to continue at that point in my life, I would have not left Harvest.  I just needed a good year or so to get my shit together mentally and really see what stuck.  I look back now at the events of that year and wish to hell that I took him up on the offer, but things happen for a reason.  So, it was a couple years, I moved back to Minneapolis and in 2001, Season of Fire was born.

SITP: Around that time, Krakatoa also re-emerged.  How did that come about?

Dave:  That was another one of those things where we all found ourselves not ready to commit to anything but a studio project and Carl Skildum had all these great songs waiting in the wings, and since none of us were doing a damn thing... Dan was more than welcoming to the idea of putting out a cd.  I think at some point, since all members of Krakatoa are still actively playing music, that we will one day play a show.

SITP: I find it interesting that you guys were able to come back to the band multiple times after years of dormancy, and make it sound natural.

Dave:  I think we all had great chemistry and we had known each other since 1991 or so.  Carl and Chad had done a couple bands before that one back in the late 80's and early 90's so they had a really good sense of what they wanted to hear.  Carl remains to this day, one of the finest guitar players I've witnessed.
SITP: It's always nice to have someone like that to be a part of your personal lexicon.

Dave: Definitely.  It was amazing for both of us to watch each other after Krakatoa dissolved the first time, then we both went our respective paths with Harvest and Threadbare, and developed in our own ways. Threadbare will remain one of the all time most underrated bands and I'm so glad that they were included in the Burning Fight shows, because people need to hear that stuff.  It's absolutely some of the innovative hardcore from that time, and even now remains a constant in my library.

SITP: So with Season Of Fire, you were back in the game so to speak.  Was it a no brainer to hook up with Goodfellow Records?

Dave:  Well, it was and it wasn't.  It was weird.  I enjoyed Season Of Fire, but it was a different animal.  Goodfellow Records was kind enough to work with us, but it wasn't the same thing that I was used to in Harvest.  Not Goodfellow, but our commitment to Goodfellow.  We could have worked harder.

SITP: You didn't feel that it was just because you were at a different place in life with different commitments?

Dave: hahaha yes.  Actually, it was exactly that.  I was working on a career as a graphic designer.  I had been since '94, but the band took over.

SITP: Did Season Of Fire die out because you didn't feel as passionate about it, or were there other reasons?

Dave: It was just time.  We did one final tour, however brief, and made it to Canada so that we could see Chris and play up there in support of the last cd, but I think it was time to move on from that.  A couple years later, The Good Fight started and the same thing happened.

SITP: I almost completely forgot about TheGood Fight.  I have one EP and it seemed like the band fizzled out before I heard any other news.

Dave:  Everyone was not on the same page regarding tours, song writing, etc., and I think some of us wanted more and some less.  For me, I just wasn't as honest with myself and everyone else about how I felt.  I wasn't that motivated.  Truth be told, it wasn't me.  I don't know. Iit was a really weird time of my life. The past 10 years have been the happiest and most confusing ever.  With music, I felt like I was pushing myself in 10 different directions when the one I wanted the most was staring me in the face.

SITP:  After Good Fight, I remember reading on Lambgoat that you were going to sing for an indie band?  My memory on that is a little hazy.  Then I also heard something about a band called Of The Gods.

Dave:  I did.  For a little over a year and a half, I sang with this group called New Holland.  Very interesting.  Put out a 4 song cd.  Local only to Minneapolis and the Dakotas.  We played some hybrid of indie rock and hardcore.  It was not post hardcore.  It was something very different... at least to me and my idea of what post hardcore was.
So you asked about City Of God... I'm so glad you did.

SITP: I see I got the name a little confused.

Dave:  Well, you didn't actually.  We had to change it from City Of God to Of The Gods.  This was a project that consisted of Dan Z. from Harvest, Kevin from The Good Fight, Jon Mcaab from The good Fight, Justin Kane (Disemodied) and me.  Dan and I have always been close and when Dan left the Hope Con and I left Season Of Fire, we talked about what we were missing in music.  He had some stuff that he recorded and I've always loved his writing style, so he sent me some mp3's.  He had just left LA and moved to Brazil with his wife.  I listened to them and was blown away.  I started playing in The Good Fight and Kevin and I found Jon as well.  Dan and I have been close friends with Justin for longer than I can remember.  Dan came up to a Good Fight rehearsal while visiting and we recorded 3 songs in Justin's basement.  This was in 2005. So, Of The Gods, or at that time, City Of God played one show in Northfield at this tiny little youth center called The Key.  We opened, another band played, and then The Good Fight played.  It was pretty fun.

SITP: So you pulled double duties on the mic?

Dave:  Yep.  Both bands were so different that it was kind of wild.  Also, I think that City Of God played a short set of like 3 or 4 songs.  In any case, in 2005 with that group of people, we finally recorded the last Harvest song that was written in '98 and only played twice.  We played it at our last show.  It was titled Torture Inhibition and was also used as the name of the Season Of Fire cd

SITP: Was that song in the same vein as the "One Step Closer" era Harvest songs?

Dave:  Yes it was.  It was basically written right after that EP came out.  We also recorded 2 other originals. That was the only time that project played live and recorded per se, but Dan and I have been actively writing new material in the past year again and Jon is now involved as well.  So, City Of God was/is an ongoing project that Dan and I were working on behind the scenes for the past probably 8-9 years.  It's a manifestation of all that we wanted to do in music without any pretense.  It is our evolution from what we were doing in Harvest, Dan in the Hope Con, and into something that we felt was the next chapter of our lives in hardcore.  We are taking from that experience over the past years and after much deliberation, we are coming back in full form now as Harvest once again.

SITP: Did you come to a bit of a halt musically after 2005?

Dave:  Yes and no.  The Good Fight was a little project with very few shows, and in 2006/07, I tried my hand at this almost rock band called New Holland.  It wasn't too pretty, I mean my vocals.  I guess I was trying to do all these random music projects to try different things and ranges, vocally.  It was interesting but if I'm going to sing, I really like songs by Sinatra and Dean Martin. In any case, when it comes to bands, I love hardcore without a doubt.

SITP: So, The Good Fight was fairly short lived.  At what point did you decide to move to Canada?

Dave:  Well, my wife decided to go to grad school and one of her first choices was in Toronto, so we took a trip there on a visit and the rest was history. This was nearly 2 years ago. We moved in Sept. of 2009

SITP: I guess this brings us to present day...tell me about Anxiety.

Dave: Anxiety is the new band with Chris Logan on guitar and Matt Beckman on drums. Bass player is still to be announced but that's in the works. We've practiced a few times and actually just last night I was able to lay down some vocals. We are all super excited about it.  It's something Chris and I have been talking about for let's see 20 years. hahaha. I'm not kidding.

SITP: Does Anxiety have plans to record and release some music?

Dave: Definitely.  We are going to record sooner than later and put out a 7".  Scheduling is hard, so to say when, would be stupid, but it's definitely coming.  Shows, too.  One fairly big show actually of which we'll announce soon.  We have the usual Facebook page.  We'll get the Myspace thing figured out once we get some recorded demo material, etc., but the fb will be updated frequently as to our whereabouts and dialysis schedule.

In the time since this interview, Harvest has come back full force with a new 7" coming out soon on Good Fight Entertainment.